Month 1: Weeks 1-4

Doctor visits

Your first exam…what to expect 

Regular visits to your doctor help make sure you and your baby stay healthy. Your first appointment is likely to last longer than any other. You may feel excited and nervous at this first visit. It’s OK to bring someone with you to the appointment.

You should be prepared to talk about:

The date of your last period so a due date and later testing schedule can be made.

Your medical history, including any chronic conditions, allergies, previous pregnancies or miscarriages, and medications you’re taking.

Your family medical history, including diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease, as well as genetic defects like Down syndrome.

Your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink alcohol or are around toxic substances at home or at work.

If you have health insurance, find out what expenses are covered. If you don’t have health insurance in Arkansas, check with ConnectCare at 1-800-275-1131 ( for additional help during your pregnancy. Tennessee residents should contact their local health department, contact Cover Kids at CoverTN (1-866-CoverTN) or go to or the TennCare website at In Shelby County, call 901-545-8722 for assistance.

Testing and planning

Getting your pregnancy off on the right foot requires a lot of tests, planning and information, such as:

  • A physical exam – including pelvic and breast exams; checking your heart, lungs, eyes, ears, nose and throat; measuring your height and weight.
  • Tests of your blood and urine, checking of your blood pressure and a Pap test. 
  • Setting a plan of care (including scheduling of appointments, diet, exercise and special things to do) designed to help you and your baby stay healthy.
  • Being checked for several conditions that can harm you and your baby. These can include anemia (low iron), bladder infections, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV*, cervical cancer, hepatitis B, vaginal infections and other problems.

*HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. A mother can unknowingly pass this disease to her baby before it is born. But today there is medication that reduces the chances of this occurring, so it is even more important to know if you are infected with HIV. Talk to your doctor or nurse about your HIV status.

High-risk pregnancy

Every pregnancy has some risk of problems. Risk factors for a high-risk pregnancy can include:

  • Being older than age 35 or being a teen or younger
  • Being overweight or underweight
  • Having had problems in previous pregnancies
  • Having preexisting or chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, autoimmune disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, cancer or infections

If you have a chronic condition, you should talk to your doctor about how to minimize your risks.

Your baby

Soon after fertilization, the zygote (your one-cell baby-to-be) travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. It will divide rapidly to form a cluster of cells resembling a tiny raspberry. The inner group of cells will become the embryo. The outer group of cells will become the membranes that nourish and protect your baby.


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